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Solar Cells Ditch Doping

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Scientists have developed a new silicon solar cell that promises cheaper manufacturing processes and better power output.

The research, published in Nature Energy (www.tinyurl.com/h88gvv6), did away with the chemical doping that conventional silicon cells rely on and instead used pure silicon sandwiched between thin films of different materials.

“For a lot of people this will broaden their idea of how silicon solar cells can be made,” said lead author James Bullock, a PhD student at the Australian National University who conducted the study while on placement at UC Berkeley.

“These cells can be made using a very simple low-temperature fabrication procedure, so they have the potential for cheaper processing whilst still having high efficiencies.”

The team’s best solar cell so far has achieved nearly 20% efficiency, which is better than the industry average, said co-author Prof Andres Cuevas of ANU. “There is nothing to say we can’t get to the world record efficiencies, over 25%, using this approach,” he said.

Instead of using doping impurities within the silicon structure to control the electronic properties, the team sandwiched a silicon wafer between layers of lithium fluoride and molybdenum oxide.

Lithium fluoride has a low binding energy of electrons...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.